Singapore — A petition on the change.org platform calling for the temporary suspension of all executions and for data transparency to make public the identities and cases of everyone on Death Row was started on Wednesday (Sept 23) by YouTuber Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas Nair.
The petition, “Immediate Moratorium and Transparency: The First Step Towards Abolishing The Death Penalty”, garnered more than 700 signatures by evening, with the number rising.
The duo called for an immediate moratorium, or a temporary suspension, on all executions, as well as data transparency to make public the identities and cases of everyone on Death Row. They explained that a moratorium on all executions in Singapore was necessary due to the irreversibility of the act and the fact that our criminal justice system has made mistakes in the past.
Citing other notable cases, the petition mentioned Singaporean Syed Suhail Syed Zin, 44, who was arrested in 2011 and convicted in December 2015 of a capital charge of possessing at least 38.8g of diamorphine or heroin for trafficking.
They wrote that Suhail would have been executed last Friday when, after an application by his lawyer M Ravi, the Attorney-General’s Chambers acknowledged possession of correspondence forwarded to it by the prison in 2018, including a letter Suhail wrote to his lawyer.
The petition stated that “this is a breach of lawyer-client privilege, and also flouts prison regulations”.
On Tuesday (Sept 22), the Ministry of Home Afffairs had issued a clarification regarding accusations that came after correspondence by a Death Row inmate to his lawyer was forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The inmate, Singaporean Syed Suhail Syed Zin, 44, was arrested in 2011 and convicted in December 2015 of a capital charge of possessing at least 38.8g of diamorphine or heroin for trafficking. When he was imprisoned in 2018, he wrote a letter to his lawyer, which was forwarded to the AGC.
In its clarification, the MHA explained: “During a hearing before the Court of Appeal on 3 May 2018, Syed Suhail informed the court that he wished to introduce evidence from his uncle for the purposes of the appeal, having given the court various reasons during the trial for not calling his uncle as a defence witness. The hearing was then adjourned for parties to look into this request and the Court of Appeal allowed the AGC to file a response if it thought that Syed Suhail was abusing the process of the court.
“In the preparation of its response, AGC approached SPS to check whether Syed Suhail had expressed any prior intention to call his uncle as a witness. SPS checks revealed that Syed Suhail had informed the Superintendent of his intention to call his uncle as a defence witness. He had also written four letters to his uncle.
“In this context, SPS extended a copy of these letters, and one letter to his then-counsel (i.e. the Letter) to the AGC on 10 May 2018 and 7 June 2018. At that time, there was no legal prohibition in the Prisons Act or Regulations against doing so.”
The petition also called for the identities of those on Death Row to be made public.
“The lack of information about the identities of individuals on Death Row distances people from the State mechanism. People should know who they are endorsing the State to put to death, and have transparency on their cases and what is actually going on in Death Row,” it stated.
The petition called for President Halimah Yacob and the Cabinet, Minister of Home Affairs K Shanmugam and the Court of Appeal to consider their points raised and to act accordingly.
The petition can be found here. /TISG
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